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Nothing Left to Fight Against

--by Zenkei Blanche Hartman (Mar 12, 2012)


During the Vietnam War, I was a political activist.  I fought for peace.  There was some contradiction.  There wasn’t any peace in me.  I hated the people who disagreed with me.  That was a kind of war within myself.  In 1968, I was just beginning to look at the way in which I was vigorously clinging to my opinions about things and denigrating others who had different opinions, when there was a strike at San Francisco State University.
 
The police came with their masks and clubs, started poking people.  And without thinking, I ducked under the hands of people to get between the police and students.  I met this riot squad policemen face-to-face with his mask on and everything. He was close enough to touch.  I met this policeman’s eyes straight on, and I had this overwhelming experience of identification, of shared identity. "This was the most transformative moment of my life -- having this experience of shared identity with the riot squad policeman.  It was a gift.  Nothing had prepared me for it.  I didn’t have any conceptual basis for understanding it.  The total experience was real and incontrovertible.
 
My life as a political activist ended with that encounter, because there was no longer anything to fight against.  The way I described it to my friends was the policeman was trying to protect what he thought was right and good from all of the other people who were trying to destroy it -- and I was doing the same thing.  "Since I had no basis for understanding the experience of shared identity with someone whom I had considered complete "other" (i.e., the riot squad policeman), and because the experience had been so real and so powerful, I began to search for someone who would understand it.  How could a riot squad policemen and I be identical?  In my search I met Suzuki Roshi.  The way he looked at me, I knew he understood.  That’s how I got here [as an ordained monastic.]
 
--Zenkei Blanche Hartman, former abbess of the San Francisco Zen Center

 


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On Jun 21, 2012 kishor Jagirdar wrote:

 As a change maker I went with a big ego bringing transformation and helping the villagers in the hamlet where there were so many reports of malnutrition in the state of UP India.The villagers greeted me and I went around as if an expert with the air of " know it all ". I was given good sumptuous food by the village headman with Indian bread and vegetables. After the meal i noticed a banana leaf kept near an Ant hill under a tree and one or two person coming and peeking at it occasionally catching my attention.I got lost in my work and rounds around the village.In the evening I saw that  a few folks had gathered near that tree and soon they shooed away the ants on the leaves.to my surprise the next instant they were actually licking the leaf and enjoy the act. Out of sheer curiosity I reached that spot and asked them what they were doing as I felt it revolting, here is what they   had to say " this is our meal, the ants have gathered crumbs that are very  See full.

 As a change maker I went with a big ego bringing transformation and helping the villagers in the hamlet where there were so many reports of malnutrition in the state of UP India.The villagers greeted me and I went around as if an expert with the air of " know it all ". I was given good sumptuous food by the village headman with Indian bread and vegetables. After the meal i noticed a banana leaf kept near an Ant hill under a tree and one or two person coming and peeking at it occasionally catching my attention.I got lost in my work and rounds around the village.In the evening I saw that  a few folks had gathered near that tree and soon they shooed away the ants on the leaves.to my surprise the next instant they were actually licking the leaf and enjoy the act.

Out of sheer curiosity I reached that spot and asked them what they were doing as I felt it revolting, here is what they   had to say " this is our meal, the ants have gathered crumbs that are very nutritious and good for body." I was taken aback. What on earth were they speaking of ? The head man explain " you people from the city are used to the habit of filling the stomach to satiate hunger.By making hunger less doesn't mean the body is getting the nutrition it wants......it may just fill the stomach. The City folks are used to sedentary life style.We at the village have hard labour to deal with every moment. For us we need nutrition to sustain ourselves to have enough energy to discharge the work. We don't fill our stomach but we give what the body needs to be healthy and strong......our lean bodies doesn't mean there is malnutrition or starving and you being plump doesn't mean you are healthy . We have just adapted ourselves to our living conditions".

Nothing had prepared me on this stark reality of shared identity.he was working to ensure his people were protected and fed while I was trying to do the same and each of us saw each of need to CHANGE. They wanted us from the urban life to see their wisdom in their concept of nutrition and ridiculed our approach and we looked at theirs and did the same.

What emerged for me that day was transformational.I gave up my activism approach forever.I realized that I had so much to learn as yet and my paradigm had shifted. There is abundance for every one on this planet and each of us have adapted to the environment we are in.In the mode of GOODNESS we see only GOODNESS and spread GOODNESS. that way all the negativity diminishes. Elimination of negativity completely is a foolish past time..The more I wage a war on poverty the more i see poverty and the more I spread poverty.The more I see hunger the more I spread hunger. So i just had no more to fight for and wage war or be angry about .I saw that all around me are in the same mode Fighting for something or the other when I made peace with myself suddenly I saw that every one around are also trying to make peace with themselves in shred identity.

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On Jun 20, 2012 Nicole wrote:
When I had a similar experience with a close relative I realized that the things that he believed in, and acted upon, came from the same fear of not being seen, not belonging, that I had also grown up struggling with. I never needed to agree (or disagree) with him after that, because the fire of my anger changed from being directed at him to being a fuel for changing the way I struggle with that same fear so that I can make something of it. I struggle with applying this to the day to day challenges of being in the non profit world, the ways that my fear still drives some of what I do, and I so appreciate this article and the space to reflect on how I have grown, am growing and still need to grow in the way I do the work I do. It is about our internal work, because doing this work helps us live a life full of peace rather than a life of fighting for peace.

On Mar 16, 2012 Nina wrote:
Interestingly I was really wanting guidance on this subject! And I feel comfort in knowing I am not the only one having difficulty facing people who you disagree with. Especially this contradiction here between fighting against war, but kind of going to war with others or having war inside oneself is striking. If a person is a symbol of violence, how to encounter that person with compassion? If a person has a very narrow view, how can I expand it?
I know it takes patience, so it's a very good reminder! I wish I could be more Zen when facing "the other". It's right, in the end we cannot expect to all agree...even if I think that agreeing (of the other with me) would be better for everyone :-). (How would it be if everyone is against killing, and by that i mean not accepting any justifications, for exampele?) So yeah, good to read this! I will keep trying!

On Mar 15, 2012 viral wrote:
 @Mira, wonderful reflection! Thanks for sharing :-)

On Mar 15, 2012 Dinesh Mehta wrote:
 "Audio clip from this week's circle of sharing ..."



On Mar 13, 2012 Lennox wrote:
Truly inspiring passage. Seek to understand first, then to be understood. Know all mental positions including "objective values" are ego's need to preserve itself by amplifying the differences between us. The event of shared identity the author experienced points to a rare but life changing moment of awakening that creates the Space for everyone to fulfill their life's purpose - evolve.

On Mar 13, 2012 Somik Raha wrote:
 Mira, what a great sharing!

On Mar 13, 2012 Mira wrote:

This reading reminds me of a transformative moment of my own a few months ago.  My relations with my mother had been strained to almost absent for the 7 years before that.  Every time I interacted with her, I found myself building a protective wall around myself, protection from the anger, hurt and pain I felt from her.  One day, at her mom's home for her birthday, she started screaming at me, literally four inches from my face.  My wall threw that emotion back at her, until, in a moment's notice, the wall melted and I met her anger with compassion.  Instead of resisting and reflecting the anger, I allowed it to flow through me while sending back as much love and compassion I could must in that moment.  Allowing it to flow past me, her anger did not touch me.  Filling myself with love removed the sting of the experience.  It changed everything for me.  And coincidence or not, today, my mother and I are on speaking terms, slowing givi  See full.

This reading reminds me of a transformative moment of my own a few months ago.  My relations with my mother had been strained to almost absent for the 7 years before that.  Every time I interacted with her, I found myself building a protective wall around myself, protection from the anger, hurt and pain I felt from her.  One day, at her mom's home for her birthday, she started screaming at me, literally four inches from my face.  My wall threw that emotion back at her, until, in a moment's notice, the wall melted and I met her anger with compassion.  Instead of resisting and reflecting the anger, I allowed it to flow through me while sending back as much love and compassion I could must in that moment.  Allowing it to flow past me, her anger did not touch me.  Filling myself with love removed the sting of the experience.  It changed everything for me.  And coincidence or not, today, my mother and I are on speaking terms, slowing giving space to build a new relationship.

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On Mar 13, 2012 Alyson wrote:
I agree . . . in principle. What, then, is an appropriate response to human rights violations and injustice? Isn't there an inherent judgment, a proclamation of "otherness," in labeling certain behaviors unjust or inhumane? Is there a way to fight for love, peace and justice without fighting against anyone or anything? 

On Mar 13, 2012 Jenine wrote:

I receive spiritual quotes in my inbox every morning from ABRAHAM (Jerry and Ester Hicks) and this one in particular was so apropos for your input today on diversity and acceptance.  I thank you for this wonderful newsletter and for keeping my thoughts and actions on track.  This helps keep my life and the lives I touch around me in a more accepting and non-judgmental way.  In turn, my life is more peaceful as I learn how to live in a more spiritual and loving way. Sounds corny, but it feels so simple and perfect.  "There is a big mix out there, and there's lots of different things going on, and there is not one way that was intended to be the right way. Just like there's not one color or one flower or one vegetable or one fingerprint. There is not one that is to be the right one over all others. The variety is what fosters the creativity. And so you say, "Okay, I accept that there's lots of variety, but I don't like to eat cucumbers.&  See full.

I receive spiritual quotes in my inbox every morning from ABRAHAM (Jerry and Ester Hicks) and this one in particular was so apropos for your input today on diversity and acceptance.  I thank you for this wonderful newsletter and for keeping my thoughts and actions on track.  This helps keep my life and the lives I touch around me in a more accepting and non-judgmental way.  In turn, my life is more peaceful as I learn how to live in a more spiritual and loving way. Sounds corny, but it feels so simple and perfect. 

"There is a big mix out there, and there's lots of different things going on, and there is not one way that was intended to be the right way. Just like there's not one color or one flower or one vegetable or one fingerprint. There is not one that is to be the right one over all others. The variety is what fosters the creativity. And so you say, "Okay, I accept that there's lots of variety, but I don't like to eat cucumbers." Don't eat cucumbers. But don't ask them to be eliminated and don't condemn those who eat them. Don't stand on corners waving signs trying to outlaw the things that you don't like. Don't ruin your life by pushing against. Instead, say, '"I choose this instead. This does please me.'"

--- Abraham

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On Mar 13, 2012 Dennis wrote:

 Socialized care is trying to keep me alive, but the Doctors are busy and it is a different one each time, resulting in differing opinions on the same issue. They don't have time  to read the chart thoroughly. They are also haughty and in command, authorities that don't like to be challenged. this last time the Dr. was one hour late and utterly changed course from what the previous Dr. said. I tried to explain my angst, but she just got more feisty. There we were the patient wanting and needing compassionate medical care and the Doctor ostensibly committed to help, but it felt like we were totally at odds. She took my Blood pressure and it was understandably through the roof. I am not quite there, not quite transformed, but I am trying very hard to appreciate her position. I have also done some research and found out what she is recommending is pretty much standard treatment. I have decided that I am not my best protector and while well intentioned, I now believe it w  See full.

 Socialized care is trying to keep me alive, but the Doctors are busy and it is a different one each time, resulting in differing opinions on the same issue. They don't have time  to read the chart thoroughly. They are also haughty and in command, authorities that don't like to be challenged.
this last time the Dr. was one hour late and utterly changed course from what the previous Dr. said. I tried to explain my angst, but she just got more feisty. There we were the patient wanting and needing compassionate medical care and the Doctor ostensibly committed to help, but it felt like we were totally at odds. She took my Blood pressure and it was understandably through the roof. I am not quite there, not quite transformed, but I am trying very hard to appreciate her position. I have also done some research and found out what she is recommending is pretty much standard treatment. I have decided that I am not my best protector and while well intentioned, I now believe it would be in my best interests to appreciate both the struggle I am in and the struggle they are in. It isn't always easy even though I assume we want the same thing.

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On Mar 12, 2012 Derick wrote:

I can associate with the story which makes it even so more compelling.  With this story I have also realized I am not the only person recognizing “shared identity” experiences.  What I also realized is that there are a few key elements necessary to make these experiences happen; which is mainly concluded to the kind of soul and spirit that a person convey with. I have learned not to expect respect and loyalty from other people, but that I will offer it without fail.  It is also eminent to qualify a situation and the people and the cause all together before commitment can be made to anything.  As the strength of unity comes through unquestionable understanding while great errors can be laid to rest by calmness.    To summarize have I learned that one will not change the world by trying to change others but by living in example without expectation of reward or recognition or even results.  Change takes time, but it is guaranteed by the dilig  See full.

I can associate with the story which makes it even so more compelling.  With this story I have also realized I am not the only person recognizing “shared identity” experiences.  What I also realized is that there are a few key elements necessary to make these experiences happen; which is mainly concluded to the kind of soul and spirit that a person convey with.
I have learned not to expect respect and loyalty from other people, but that I will offer it without fail.  It is also eminent to qualify a situation and the people and the cause all together before commitment can be made to anything.  As the strength of unity comes through unquestionable understanding while great errors can be laid to rest by calmness.   
To summarize have I learned that one will not change the world by trying to change others but by living in example without expectation of reward or recognition or even results.  Change takes time, but it is guaranteed by the diligence of a persistent mind, which is lead by a good heart and spirit. I can associate with the story which makes it even so more compelling.  With this story I have also realized I am not the only person recognizing “shared identity” experiences.  What I also realized is that there are a few key elements necessary to make these experiences happen; which is mainly concluded to the kind of soul and spirit that a person convey with.
I have learned not to expect respect and loyalty from other people, but that I will offer it without fail.  It is also eminent to qualify a situation and the people and the cause all together before commitment can be made to anything.  As the strength of unity comes through unquestionable understanding while great errors can be laid to rest by calmness.   
To summarize have I learned that one will not change the world by trying to change others but by living in example without expectation of reward or recognition or even results.  Change takes time, but it is guaranteed by the diligence of a persistent mind, which is lead by a good heart and spirit. 

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On Mar 11, 2012 David Doane wrote:
 It's crucially important to have the experience/awareness/realization of shared identity, however it happens, whatever precipitates it.  It's important to get to the point of looking across at the other and seeing myself.  There is no other.  We are distinct, but we are one, and until we realize that, we will go on fighting and warring, taking ourselves further away from the peace we say we are seeking.  I suppose there is no other way of resolving the war outside than by sharing identity with the ones we are fighting.

On Mar 10, 2012 MomentofLearning wrote:

I used to have arguments with peopl when I felt they were not following what is correct and value-oriented. This was a common ground for my being angry and expressing it too on few people. This was common at work or when I had to deal with people in society as nowadays people in a highly competitive India are ready to forego values and honesty for getting money or success. I joined a company where the manager was speaking lies, playing politics and making wrong use of power to  get success and prevent me from establising myself. I got angry and escalated. I was tense all the time to prevent any wrong from happenign against me and fighting , complaining in company. One day, when senior manager listened to me, I just happened to realise that I am talking against a person who has taken pains and somehow made a career. I know he is using wrong means to be successful but somewhere I have lost love for him as a fellow human. I could see that in his struggle to save his position he was g  See full.

I used to have arguments with peopl when I felt they were not following what is correct and value-oriented. This was a common ground for my being angry and expressing it too on few people. This was common at work or when I had to deal with people in society as nowadays people in a highly competitive India are ready to forego values and honesty for getting money or success.
I joined a company where the manager was speaking lies, playing politics and making wrong use of power to  get success and prevent me from establising myself.
I got angry and escalated. I was tense all the time to prevent any wrong from happenign against me and fighting , complaining in company.
One day, when senior manager listened to me, I just happened to realise that I am talking against a person who has taken pains and somehow made a career. I know he is using wrong means to be successful but somewhere I have lost love for him as a fellow human. I could see that in his struggle to save his position he was going against me all the more. In those moments I wrote an email where I accepted having made mistakes too. This gave him an upper hand in the case. He continued to go against me and I had to find another job for myself.
It was a tough time but I knew that I did it out of love for another being as a person inspite of all mistakes.
After that I have been able to see the human angle in others decisions and position, have been able to look at them with love and allow them to choose their values for their own life. I do still try to encourage people to follow good ethics but by setting an example and by love. It works in its own ways and sometimes much more than an aggressive attitude did. It leaves me and others at peace.
It happened because of that one moment when I realised that I cannot drive any wrong against another person and put him and his family in problems inspite of he not following the moral values I consider as correct. An eye-opener and a war-stopper :) 

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On Mar 10, 2012 Conrad P Pritscher wrote:
 Zenkei's story is very touching.  Thanks for sending it.  My fights with my self are still ongoing.  As I age and become wiser, the fights are less frequent and less fierce. I still notice that I have difficulty understanding how many republicans could think and act the way they do, but when I notice my present experience, I am more excepting of them and see my unity  with them. When I am in the present moment I notice my noticing while I am noticing, and I notice more my unity with everyone and everything.  I recently listened to the taped book: "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle. It greatly helped me  notice my present experience more often.  When I notice what I desire, I notice that I desire less and I am more peaceful with myself and everyone and everything. Warm and kind regards to all readers.